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Ringhand, Schmidt vie for 45th Assembly

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staff, Gazette
October 29, 2012

— The two women vying for the 45th Assembly District bring local government experience from their communities in western Rock County.

Republican Beth Schmidt faces Rep. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, after both emerged from partisan primaries. Ringhand was elected to the Assembly's 80th District in 2010. Because of redistricting, her re-election bid puts her in the 45th race, even though she still lives in Evansville.

Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, is the incumbent in the 45th, but redistricting puts her in the 31st District. The new 45th District includes Orfordville, Evansville, Brodhead, much of the city of Beloit and the towns of Beloit, Avon, Magnolia and Newark.

Ringhand served as mayor of Evansville from 2002-06 and was on the city council from 1998-2002 and 2008-10.

Schmidt, a server at Applebee's, was elected to the Orfordville Village Board in spring 2011.

The candidates answered these questions:

Q: Do you think K-12 education in Wisconsin is adequately funded? Why or why not?

Ringhand: "They took some big cuts. I know that they have their plates full, and they really would like more (funding)," she said.

Many area superintendents have told her they would continue to struggle with funding.

"I would like to see more funding from the state, if at all possible, but I also understand we have limited funds. And how we disperse those to try to be fair and equitable so one entity doesn't get lopsided and get more attention than another to the detriment of another—it's a balancing act," she said.

"Taking away their (districts) ability to levy additional funds at the local level, I think, could be eased so that each school could have their own discretionary spending," she said.

It would be way for them to raise additional income without having to go to referendum, she said.

Schmidt: "I think right now what we have to look at with K-12 is new perspective," she said.

"We keep (funding) something and not understand why we're funding it, necessarily. For years we've said, 'We need to fund, we need to fund,' and then on the other end of that is we hear, 'Well, our test scores aren't as good as they should be. We're not as competitive around the world as we should be.'"

"So, do we do a 180 and we say, do we do a different look at our curriculum, a different way of doing things? Obviously we're going to need technology," she said.

With the next budget, "we know we're going to have some money. We're also going to have to look at other areas (where) I think we can get leaner and meaner in … and then look at education, and it might be curriculum and it may take some money, but we have to take a new look and a new approach."

Q: With the Interstate 90/39 expansion project in the works for Rock County, what is your stance on toll roads?

Ringhand: "I think it makes sense," she said. "A lot of the traffic on those toll roads are out-of-state vehicles. Other states have those tolls, and if you want good roads, you have to be able to maintain them, and user fees can be one of the more basic ways of doing it. I would not object to it."

She said she would favor a system like I-PASS that allows drivers to pay electronically without stopping at each tollbooth.

Schmidt: She does not support toll roads and said they would cost the state federal funds.

"The other thing is, what's the cost of putting in tolling? We aren't even thinking about that. … And also, we're a huge tourism state, and I'd like to continue to make us a more friendly tourism state," she said.

She said the state Department of Transportation needs to prioritize projects.

When she sees roundabouts being built in Madison, she thinks of town roads that need fixing to transport feed and milk.

Q: Rock County has seen its share of controversy over the siting of large farms. Do you think all constituents are well served by the state's livestock siting law? Do you think changes need to be made?

Ringhand: "I know a lot of people don't like it because it does allow the large farms, but yet I think we have to keep in mind that we need some uniformity when it comes to large-scale operations," she said.

That's why we have the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration for manufacturing because certain standards have to be met, she said.

"I think this is one of those situations. It's really no different than a large industry, and some rules and regulations need to be put in place. I think the waste discharge programs do need to be managed very well because it can be an issue … but I really think there does need to be that oversight at a higher level because we can't have every county making different rules. It would really be a mess," she said.

Schmidt: She said the Magnolia Town Board, who fought Larson Acres in court for years until ultimately losing in a state Supreme Court ruling, doesn't think the law serves everyone well.

She researched the topic enough to know standards are needed, she said. The legislation is reviewed every few years, but she supports it.

"We have to have a standard," she said.

Bios

Janis Ringhand

Age: 62

Address: 412 Fowler Circle, Evansville.

Job: State legislator, retired bookkeeper

Education: Associate degree in business/finance, Madison Area Technical College.

Community service: Chairwoman of Stoughton Hospital Board of Directors, vice president of Rock County Literacy Connection.

Elected posts: 80th Assembly District representative, 2010-present; Evansville alderwoman, 1998-2002 and 2008-10; Evansville mayor, 2002-06.

Website: janisringhand.org

***

Beth Schmidt

Age: 53

Address: 110 S. Wright Road, Orfordville.

Job: Server at Applebee's in Janesville for 15 years

Education: Associate degree in accounting from Blackhawk Technical College

Community service: School activities, Cub Scouts, March of Dimes and the Care Ministry and Day of Hope event through Beloit Central Christian Church.

Elected posts: Orfordville Village Board trustee, spring 2011-present.

Website: beth45th.com



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